Termites: how to defend your property against termite infestation

Termites can cause a significant amount of damage to houses that don’t use any protection methods. To believe that you might not be vulnerable to termite damage is a bit like wearing blinkers.

Termites are wide spread, there are approximately 2300 species worldwide of which 350 species are found in Australia and 12 species of those are most harmful to hardwood species. Termites are commonly referred to as ‘white ants’ however they are unrelated to ants, the name tends to refer more to their transparent body.

Many species of termite are useful insects as they recycle rotting organic material and their activities aerate soil, all very useful, but those that cause damage are extremely destructive.

Termite colonies can be populated with several million insects. When the colony becomes active in early spring until late summer when the a’lates or juvenile breeding insects begin to spread it is useful to search out the main nest. This is usually located within 50-100m of the parent nest.

Termites are attracted to warm humid areas, where they find food sources and establish nests. Some of the areas they are attracted to are:

  • Piles of damp wood.
  • Rotting tree stumps.
  • Organic, damp refuse.
  • Ornamental gardens covered with bark, pergolas and patios.
  • Gaps or cracked concrete pads abutting buildings.

When deciding to build a new house always clear the area of rotting stumps, burn off the building area and use treated timber where possible. Pine treated with creosote will give the wood protection against wood eating termites. Although it is recognised that ‘no timber is totally resistant to termite attack’.

As a defense against infestation some simple measures can be put in place.

  • Routine inspections are recommended at least annually by the Australian Standard AS 3600.2
  • Wood piles can be stacked in dry areas and well aerated
  • Concrete is a material that termites cannot penetrate provided there are no cracks in the surface.
  • Pergolas and patios can be constructed with a clear separation from the main building.
  • Organic refuse needs to be removed.
  • Some timbers such as pine can be soaked in a creosote bath, the degree of protection depends upon the amount of time the timber is soaked. 48 hours is regarded as an optimum time to soak the timber.
  • Knowledge of the timber species used in construction.
  • There are a number of hardwood timbers which can be used some of which are: wandoo, blackbutt, jarrah, western red cedar and kapur.
  • Some of the more vulnerable timbers are: pine, karri, marri, mountain ash, meranti and particle board plus all sapwood species.
  • Regular inspections of the areas under and around your property which might be susceptible to a termite infestation

If you suspect that there is the possibility of a termite infestation taking place on your property then the best action to take is to contact a pest eradication company. They are the experts and will be able to advise on the best and most suitable measures for you to take. There are a number of eradication products available which range from chemical dusts which can only be applied by a licensed professional, to more environmentally friendly products.